You’re squishing my head

I woke up this morning with a stiff neck.  It’s not terrible, like the one I had last year.  It’s just sore and means that if I whip my head round quickly, forgetting that I have a stiff neck, it makes me go ‘ooyah!’ quite loudly.  I am typing this with a hot water bottle balanced in the crook of my neck.  It is not a look I recommend for this season.

Tallulah has the day off  of school today.  It is a teacher training day.  This is the second one this term.  It’s most annoying.  I am probably being wildly unfair to teachers here, and am willing to be shown the error of my ways, but I wonder why teacher days cannot be arranged in the school holidays? Teachers get more holidays than virtually any other profession, and they are paid for them.  They are expected to do work during them, sure, like lesson planning and marking and the like, so why can’t they have their training days then?  Am I just being stupid and missing something blindingly obvious?

Oscar has a serious case of the grouches today.  He slept very badly last night and woke up several times moaning and wailing for one tedious reason after another.  He is full of cold, and has been since last week, but as he seems to be getting physically better, his mood seems worse.  The broken sleep of last night is not contributing to household harmony today.

Tallulah likes being in charge, all the time.  She has to be the boss.  Not only does she have to be the boss, but if she can sow a little disharmony amongst the troops while she is being the boss, so much the better.  Oscar’s fuse is currently shorter than a dwarf’s temper.  He is not in the mood to be challenged, at all, ever.

My plan is to finish up here and then keep them on the move all day until bed time, with me physically wedged between them for as much of that time as possible.  I think it is the only thing that will get us through to the end of the day without blood being spilled.  With my neck like this, mostly I would like to be lying on the sofa, watching rubbish t.v. and moaning, but the neck must be sacrificed if I am to raise these children to adulthood.  It is my bounden duty to stop them killing each other, and anyone who gets in their path.

I have bought some bags of those small but delicious Lindt Lindor chocolate eggs.  I shall be using these as bribes.  I think it will work. It works for me.  I would walk over hot coals for a Lindor egg.  I do, and I say this in a whisper because it seems quite sacreligious, actually prefer them to Cadbury’s Mini Eggs.  There isn’t much in it though to  be truthful.

I did not blog yesterday because I sat compulsively watching multiple episodes of The Killing with my husband, and working out ever more complex theories about whodunnit.  Goodness it is a fine programme.  I have been meaning to watch it for ages. It is right up my street, as you, my commenters and four hundred of my other friends keep mailing me to tell me.  I have dutifully recorded all the episodes on Sky Plus, and been pestering Jason to watch them with me.  He is not very keen on things with subtitles, but I have gradually worn away his resistance until he gave in.  We are hooked.  I am hoping he will not be too late home from work tonight, so that we can watch even more.

For those of you who have not yet been privy to the information, it is a detective serial.  It is Danish, and very noir and complex.  It is, as I believe the very wise Mrs. Jones said to me, like a cross between Wallander and 24.  I think the 24 reference is due to the frenetic pace and the race against time, rather than it having someone like Kiefer Sutherland grunting through his teeth while padlocked to a burning oil tanker.  This is good, because I hate 24.  The first season was just about tolerable, but surely after that you would know that Jack Bauer was just an accident waiting to happen? As my friend says: ‘I wouldn’t go to the end of our road and back with him.’  Quite.

I am quite glad we have saved The Killing until now to be honest. I am not good at living with suspense. I like to know what is happening immediately.  I am one of the instant gratification generation after all.  We have eighteen episodes recorded, and the final two are on Saturday. This means that I will have caught up just in time to neatly watch the last two episodes without having to twist myself up in knots, waiting.   I would like to say that I planned this.  It would be a big fat lie though.

Apart from indulging myself in my fetish for dark, crime thrillers under the pretense that I was hoping to polish up my (non-existent) Danish, yesterday was spent taking the kids and my brother to Oxford.  We made our annual pilgrimage to the Pitt Rivers museum, which I have blogged about before on numerous occasions, as being one of my favourite places on earth.

Every time I have attempted to take the children there something has happened to cut our visit short, or in some way spoil it.  For the last two years, only the stones and bones (dinosaurs and geology) bit has been open.  Now, finally, the anthropological rooms are open to the public again, after an extensive overhaul.  It was worth the wait.

The building is magnificent.  The hall that houses the stones and bones is a gigantic, Victorian edifice with pillars of different types of stone, soaring into the sky, supporting the most beautiful and intricate glass and iron work roof.  All the stone work is carved with different specimens of leaves and trees and natural history type stuff.  There are exhibits which have the most unusual and highly welcome signage that says: ‘Please touch’.  There is always something new to do or see, and I have been a regular visitor there for the past fifteen years.  It is a delight.

My favourite rooms however, are the anthropology rooms.  You go through some double doors, and into a completely different space.  The stones and bones room is light and airy.  This one is dark and moody with subdued lighting and no windows.  The exhibits are so fragile they cannot see the light of day, and you creep round, peering into the glass cases in the stygian gloom, but oh, it is worth looking.

They have the most fascinating collection of objects, from Netsukes to Noh masks, from tribal costumes made from the most magnificently coloured feathers, to rain coats made of seal innards. They have full sized sailing boats gliding across the sky above you, suspended from the rafters.  There are ritual head dresses, glorious jewellery from the Romans to the tiniest tribes you have never even heard of.  There are puppets and weapons and musical instruments, and amulets and magical objects, and just about everything.  Where the cases cannot show everything there are racks of drawers under the cases which have special, glassed in tops, so you can pull them out and look at more treasure.

It is glorious.

What I really wanted to show the children, and what stopped Oscar whinging for the first time that day however, was the case of shrunken heads.  Oh yes! There is a whole cabinet of ‘war trophies’ from tribes which employ the bodies of their vanquished foes to give them strength in future battles.  There was even the recipe for how to shrink a head, should you ever be required to do so.

It was awesome.

That and the trip to George and Davis’ ice cream parlour on Little Clarendon Street, made our day.

I have just had a brainwave.  If the children behave too badly today I shall spend a few hours shrinking their heads and then take myself out for ice cream.  If it worked yesterday, I don’t see why it won’t work today.


20 responses to “You’re squishing my head

  1. AHA! About time too – I was finding it quite distressing that you’d not been watching The Killing as I knew it would be right up your street. I watched the first 12 episodes myself then persuaded The Lovely Husband that he ought to watch them too as it’s fucking ace, so he did and caught up by us both watching them again over the course of 3 days. I had to persuade him then not to torrent the remaining episodes because he really REALLY wanted to know whodunnit. I can tell you, even by the end of episode 18, you won’t be any the wiser. The BBC have bought the second series which they’re showing later this year and the whole show has been such a huge hit all over Europe that they’re filming a third series. Yay! More Danish jumpers! Also, as is their wont, the Americans are doing their own version of it but I think we’ll just ignore that.

    I’ve always wanted to go to the Pitt Rivers Museum and I wish it were closer to home. Perhaps I’ll try and persuade TLH to do a day trip to Oxford….

    • Mrs Jones
      I thought about you all the way round yesterday. I kept saying ‘Oooh! She’d love that! And that!’ etc. You really must go. There is also an excellent science museum with the most beautiful astrolabes and stuff in. All free. And a tiny art museum which is full of the most glorious icons. Again with the free. Plus great restaurants, fabulous pubs and everything else. TLH NEEDS to take you.

      I did note the knitwear!

  2. I don’t remember there being teacher training days when I went to school so, why did things change!

    • I don’t know when you went to school Gary. I went to school in the mid seventies and eighties. I do not remember training days either. I do remember lots of strikes though. Maybe there wasn’t time, what with all the striking? I remember the disastrous day our school decided to make the French teacher, who wasn’t on strike, do all the lessons of the home economics teacher, who was. It took six hours to cook my advent loaf and we couldn’t get it out the tin.

  3. Can’t help myself- in defense of teachers and those hols. . .if we didn’t have them we’d all have nervous breakdowns and resign on mass.
    Here’s the nights I attend- without extra pay- each term.
    Parent teacher nights, this makes it a 12 hour day for me. And then I get up and teach again the next day. This usually runs over two nights. This happens several times a year.
    Open day- again-12 hour day.
    Special event days: Subject expo day, curriculum days, parent info evenings, school formals, school debs. Again pulling out the school day to 12 hours.
    School camps. Tell me how much fun it is to go away with 200 13 year olds and do supervision for 24 hours, over three days and two nights. (No extra pay, and I get to share a room with 3- 6 other teachers.)
    When my husband was alive he was constantly saying,” What? That’s insane. No other business would ask you to do that.” That is why we have the holidays and don’t have training etc to attend then.
    So far this term I have spent ONE day every weekend doing marking. That is on top of the 8 hour day I put in every day, and then go home to do more marking and/or preparation.
    By the time the hols come I’m holding off a nervous breakdown- this is why I am not teaching full time.
    Some schools I’ve worked at have had us back at meetings till 5 or 6pm, at least once a week. So that’s 8am- 6pm. Then you still get to go home and do prep for the next day.
    Just in case it’s all too cushy, every 3 years they change all the documentation so we have meetings every week and stay back and re-write all our curriculum, after spending all day teaching.
    Most weekends you can disarm the alarm system and go back into school and find at least 3 or 4 other teachers there.
    Sorry, Katyboo, it’s a red rag to a bull. If I had my time over i would NOT become a teacher, and I LOVE being in the classroom and get a real buzz out of the kids but it is a SHITE job.
    The pay is also shite, and it’s only if you’re lucky that when you ring home about someone’s misbehaving child that the parent takes your side.
    Nuff said.
    Sorry about the rant.
    Josie x

    • Josie
      No. That’s fine. Fair play. I did genuinely wonder or I wouldn’t have asked in the post.

      I know you’re in Australia, but I don’t suspect it’s much different for UK teachers.

      I know other people who’ve left teaching because of the admin, and really missed the actual teaching part. Crap isn’t it?x

  4. Yay for watching The Killing. I hate subtitles too but it was sooooo worth it!

    How on earth did we miss the Pitt Rivers Museum? Sounds like an ace place for the whole family, MM particularly would have loved it. Ah well, too late now ;-(

    Yes, shrinking their heads and eating ice cream is a splendid idea – might even cure the pain in your neck 😉

    @Josie – big hugs, in terms of the conditions teachers are expected to work under it IS a crap job, and sadly seldom valued as deserved. I have a Teacher/Librarian friend who took early retirement a couple of years ago but has this year taken a contract for 2 days a week at a college catering solely for years 11 and 12. Loves it!

  5. Me and the mister have been on a ‘killing frenzy’ too… is just sooooo good isn’t it? must admit my sister thinks it weird that I find Theis sexy though…………and yes I did say Theis and not Troells…….hope the americans don’t make a reeeeeally bad version now….

  6. What Josie said about teachers, only I don’t think it’s quite so bad in Canada. Also, here in BC, way back in the early 1970s, the school year was lengthened by 6 days (I believe it was 6, but it might be 5) to allow for those 6 or 5 professional days mid-year for teachers to brush up on their skills, so nobody is really losing any educational time. And what would be the point of professional development during holiday periods? If you learn something new, don’t you want to put it into practice right away? We work with children, so if they’re on holidays, there’s no working for us. And how many other jobs are there anyway where you are expected to attend additional training during your vacation time?

    Also also – when I hear parents mutter about “those damn teachers and their professional days” and complain about having their little darlings out of school YET AGAIN, I always feel like responding with “You whine about having your child home with you for one extra day? I have your little monster five days a week – with 25 other little monsters the same age, yet! School isn’t a babysitting service, teachers are actually trying to impart some skills and knowledge, which is a lot tougher than parking them in front of a screen for hours at a time. If you think it’s such a cushy job, why didn’t you choose teaching as your career???”

    *quietly climbs off soapbox*

    Okay, I’m done now. Time for cake?

  7. Pinklea

    I do not think teaching is a cushy job. I did not say that. I said that teachers get much longer holidays than everyone else. My experience is that even with the extra work they are required to do, they still get longer holidays than everyone else. At least this holds true in the UK. I cannot speak for Canada or Australia.

    I think the thing that is so frustrating here is that if our education system was better I would feel happier about it to be frank. Our system seems to fail so many people that it can sometimes be hard to believe that anything of use is being put into practice. I am talking only about the UK here. I have absolutely no experience of other countries and their experiences. The education schemes change so regularly that there is little continuity and no real focus on the children, instead it all seems to be about government led targets. If the training days and all the extra work the teachers have to do directly benefitted the children in ways I could see I would genuinely be all for it. But I see little evidence of that here. I do accept that teachers work hard and that it is frustrating, but I think it is children, parents and teachers who are being penalised in favour of a bigger picture nobody else really sees.

    The average holiday for the normal working person here in the UK is 28 days. They do not get six weeks in the summer, two weeks at Easter and Christmas and a week at half term every term like teachers do, despite the marking and prep teachers have to put in, that’s still a lot of holiday. A lot of people I know can only take their holidays at pre approved times that fit in with the demands of their work, particularly people that work for the big car plants like Toyota, or industries where there are seasonal highs and lows. They can really struggle to take time off for their children, and employers here are not obliged to help in any way.

    I guess that’s why those who work feel rather sore. Most people I know do not have the luxury of being a stay at home mum or dad. They work, and if they have to take days off to care for their children to be away from school on teacher training days they have to take it as holiday, rely on family if they are that lucky, or pay someone else to do it. If they also have to take time off in the year for children who are sick or other emergencies it doesn’t leave a lot for them to take their children on real holidays. There is no real government help for parents who struggle with this.

    The main reason I didn’t go back to work when Oscar was born was because I could not afford to. This year alone, if I were working, I would have one child in nursery, one child in primary school and one child in high school. All three in different places with, apart from nursery, the same start and finish times. I would pay, on average in the UK between £4 and £600 pcm for nursery fees alone, and still have to pay for someone to pick the children up and look after them before and after school. I could easily kiss goodbye to between a thousand and fifteen hundred pounds in child care every month. What you do in the long holidays I do not know. We worked out that on the wages I could earn, 90% of them would be simply eaten away in child care costs. It precluded certain jobs outright as it was simply not monetarily sane to take them.

    I really don’t think teaching is a cushy career. I think it is a hard job, being made harder by bureaucrats who schedule school time badly and seem to base their calculations on a one child family with two parents, one of whom can afford to take the time to be a stay at home mum or dad. I’m lucky that we can afford for me to be at home. Most people I know are not, and with things like this, they really struggle.

    In this country, parents are continually being coerced into taking up the slack that the schools cannot provide because they are being squeezed by the government targets and financial cut backs. I have more to do with my childrens education than my parents ever did with mine, monetarily, in hours spent in homework help, school events, after school classes, clubs and the like. I do not think of school as a cushy place to palm my children off on hard working teachers while I swan around idly. School and its demands take up a huge part of my time as a parent of three children. I am actively involved in my children’s education at every level.

    And as a full time parent, I do not get any weeks off in a year, unless I pay for someone else to look after my kids. My son goes to nursery for two days a week, in order to prepare him for school. It costs me £150-£200 a month to do this, and this is with a subsidy that all three to five year olds get. If we didn’t get that, we couldn’t afford to send him. That money does not include his care in school holidays, on any public holidays or if he is sick. I still have to pay it though, because if I don’t, he loses his nursery place, and good nursery places are like hen’s teeth.

    And I do the night shift too.

    I’ll give you your soapbox now.

    Cake sounds great.x

  8. Wahay for the Pitt Rivers, it is absolutely THE place to go at any age. My teens all want to go back, there is always something new, and SO wonderful that you are actually allowed to touch and ask and marvel. Brilliant, brilliant, and free too. We will try your ice cream parlour too next time Katyboo!

  9. Kim
    You will love it. I guarantee it.

  10. Hurrah-you’re watching The Killing!It is superb-even if Troels does look like an eel.I think the BBC are going to show Spiral again-don’t you dare miss it.I want some ice cream now,too.

  11. Shrunken heads? That sounds right up my alley. And Attila would love it too – according to her Romans = boring; shrunken heads = awesome.
    Sounds like I have missed out on the Killing; I’ll have to wait for the rerun.

  12. Katy – I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean you specifically! Please don’t think that at all! I really meant that there actually are SOME parents out there who think that way, who really don’t see (or want to see) what teachers actually do. I know some of what you personally deal with on a daily basis, that three children is a constant juggling act. I know that you have actually home-schooled, and it sounded to me like you did a fine job, so I do think that you do understand the teaching profession. I know that parents everywhere are constantly being forced to provide what our governments no longer pay for in education and elsewhere. But I also think that because most teachers around the world do so much with less and less, that most of us give, give, give in our jobs (and then go home and give, give, give with our own families) that we really do need our time off and our training days away from our students throughout the year.

    You do bring up many, many good points and frustrations, and I (and most other teachers) agree with them all, especially about children, parents and teachers being penalized in favour of the bigger picture that no one but the bean-counters in government see.

    Every single job in existence certainly has its rewards and its frustrations, doesn’t it?

    Whew! I think we need a glass or two of wine now. What goes best with cake, red or white???

  13. Pinklea
    Let’s have two cakes each and a bottle of each for good measure.xx

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